Orchestra Director Attends Esteemed Festival in Italy

Dr. Kempter’s experience, what he hopes to bring back to his students


Dr. Kemptner performs with other musicians at Italian music event.

Isabella Carlin, Reporter

Dr. Kemptner performs with other musicians at Italian music event.

As students were finishing their finals and preparing for the school year to finally end, Head Orchestra Director, Dr. Peter Kempter, was preparing to travel to a prestigious chamber music festival in the medieval town of Assisi, Italy. Dr. Kempter is in his 14th year of leading the orchestra program.

“At the festival, groups of musicians get together to perform chamber music, string quartets, piano trios, or any combination of the instruments that are there,” Dr. Kempter said. 

 The Assisi Performing Arts Festival is held each year for two and a half weeks in Italy and brings musicians together to create music and perform for others.  The festival originally started in 2000 by a choir group from New Jersey. The choir later decided to start including a piano and a few musical instruments at the festival. The musicians that participate in the festival each year are mostly Americans and learned about the festival through word of mouth and by getting invited by their friends. Some of the states in which these musicians are from include Oklahoma, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Dr. Kempter, a cellist, found out about the festival through his mutual friend while attending another music festival in Oregon 18 years ago. He has been attending the festival ever since. 

“Musicians are very lucky to find a summer festival to play at. We are not paid while we are there, but we have free room and board for the two and a half weeks. We just pay the airfare to get there. The dinners and breakfasts are part of the deal, but lunch is on our own,” Dr. Kempter said.

Before he arrived at the festival, Dr. Kempter preselected music to play, practiced before arriving in Italy, and then when he arrived at his daily practices with his ensembles, would have 3-4 hours to perfect the song with one another. Most days, Dr. Kempter’s schedule varied and he would have practice either in the morning or afternoon depending on the performance that night.

Each summer he would have one day off, in which he and his wife spent sightseeing. From Assisi, Rome is only a three hour train ride and Venice and Milan are six hours away. Dr. Kempter would have to make sure not to travel too far to make it back to Assisi in time for the performance that night. The program is a busy experience, but one that keeps its musicians returning year after year.

“As a player, you are always learning when you are performing,” Dr. Kempter said.

 Through his experience in Italy, he hopes to bring back new knowledge to share with his orchestra about practicing, working with others in ensembles, and performing in front of audiences. 

In the future, Dr. Kempter said he will continue to attend the Assisi Performing Arts Festival and bring back all of his memories to share with his students. Through attending the festival, Dr. Kempter was able to find a place in the world where his love of music and the cello connected him with others from around the world. He hopes his students realize that in many years they will not remember what songs they were playing, but the great friendships they created through a music program and how music can truly change a person’s life.

“Our goal for orchestra is to continue to build a program, make it a safe and fun place for all the students, and build friendships,” Dr. Kempter said.